Coming from a town just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, it’s been altogether too easy for me to love sports. Tom Brady has carried the Patriots to victory after nail-biting victory, and the lyrics to Sweet Caroline have been implanted in my head since I was old enough to stay awake for an entire Red Socks game. I can’t imagine a Sunday afternoon without my younger brother decked out in his entire football uniform, helmet and all, sprinting through the backyard and dodging imaginary defenders. New England sports has brought to light some of life’s most vital and philosophical questions; does Bill Belichick experience emotion? Growing up with such a strong and vibrant community around the East Coast region’s sports teams has brought me the confidence that only multiple Super Bowl rings can offer.
The Cubs won the World Series in 2016, right around the time I was committing to North Park. I envisioned myself down at Wrigley Field; clad in blue and red and screaming when Anthony Rizzo jogged out to first base. Despite not having won any major titles since then, learning and becoming a fan of Chicago sports has been a huge part of my Midwestern city experience. It hasn’t stopped me from cheering the Red Socks to their first World Series win since 2013, but I am on my way to becoming a Chicago sports advocate. Chicago is known for hardworking people, who don’t shy away from a challenge, and their sports teams are no different. They will need all the determination they can get over these next few months. Many teams have started their season with less than ideal records, but coaches and players alike are poised for a comeback.
The Blackhawks started off their season in great shape, with wins over the Ducks and the Rangers, and were poised to place as a Western Conference play-off team. However, something shifted in the team’s dynamic. Even head coach Joel Quenneville couldn’t figure out what was up, and after a seven game losing streak the Blackhawks decided to bring in some new management. Jeremy Colliton is NHL alumni, having played for the New York Islanders, as well as being a Canadian professional ice hockey coach and player. He’s confident that the team can use pressure and speed to their advantage, in addition to turnovers to strengthen their offensive lineup.
Despite coming off a 15-28-6 regular season record in 2017, the Hawks are looking to fix their recurrent defensive problems and hopefully add some wins to their current record. Their November 14th game versus the Blues lended the Blackhawks another victory, 1-0. The Hawks do have a stereotype of their power plays being ineffective due to the search for “the perfect shot”, but Colliton seems to have rewritten the standard. They were patient, and it clearly shook out some tension in the team’s play. Andreas Martinsen added a lot to the game with a season high of 11 minutes of ice time; he brought some much needed aggressiveness to the team. He was vital to defending the team’s lead, and is a great protector of the puck. The Hawks have a long season ahead of them, and there is still time for them to come together as a cohesive team under new leadership. They’re coming off a 7-8-4 record, barely staying ahead of the Blues (6-7-3), who have slipped to last place.
This season, the Bears are ranked first in the NFC North, and have a record of 6-3-0. In spite some questionable offensive choices, they’ve seen important victories over the Seahawks (24-17), the Cardinals (16-14), the Buccaneers (48-10), the Jets (24-10), the Bills (41-9), and the Lions (34-22). This is their first year as NFC lead since 2013, and the team has a newfound confidence. The Bears have a wild card this year, relative rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. His early career success and one of the most well-crafted offenses in the NFL could lead the Bears to a potential Super Bowl run, which would be their first playoff appearance since 2010. The Bears are also operating under a new head coach. After spending three seasons with the Bears, John Fox was fired on January 1st, 2018 with a 14-34 record. Former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy was hired in his stead and under his influence, the Bears have seen some successful risks. In the third official week, Nagy opted to bench his starting line up, and play only second-string offensive players. This proved to be an excellent decision, with a 27-20 victory over the Chiefs.
Nagy’s strong offense highlights the teams’ strengths, and the return of linebacker Khalil Mack catapulted the Bears to a 34-22 victory against the Lions on November 11th. Trubisky is flanked by talented running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, and the team continues to grow as receivers Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller improve steadily game by game. Their defense leads the NFC in forced turnovers, which could lead them to more victories as the season progresses. The team has a full and competitive schedule; upcoming games include the Vikings (5-3-1), the Giants (2-7-0), and the Packers (4-4-1).
The Chicago Bulls are struggling to stay competitive after losing key players Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Bobby Portis to injury. They won’t be back until at least early December, and the basketball team needs wins, and soon. The Bulls are ranked 12th in the Eastern Conference, and have a record of 4-10. Currently, Zach LaVine is acting as primary ball handler and is one of the NBA’s top scorers, averaging 27 points per game. While this seems like a positive, it’s actually a blessing in disguise. LaVine has been heavily guarded in recent games, and he’s going to need the rest of the team to step up and start scoring consistently the entire game if the Bulls want to make an impact in the league. LaVine is carrying the team in terms of points, but Wendell Carter Jr. has a player efficiency rating of 18.6, and has been a key player as well. Small forward Justin Holiday is solid as well, averaging twelve points.
14 games in, the Bulls have been surprised by backup point guard Ryan Arcidiacono. Having only previously played 24 NBA games, he is now starting and averaging over 25 minutes per game. In those 25 minutes, Arch scores about 7.2 points with 4.5 assists. He also has the best assist to turnover rate in players averaging over 25 minutes per game, coming in at an incredibly high 5.90. Aggressive offensive and defensive play has been desperately needed within the Bulls, and no one would have expected a fringe player to utterly transform into a typical starter. With bright spots found in LaVine and Arcidiacono, unpredictable scoring is still one of the team's main setbacks. The Bulls most recent game against the Celtics on their home court in Boston was little more than a disaster. They lost 111-82, mainly by swarming LaVine and holding him to only ten points. Backup point guard Shaquille Harrison stepped up to the challenge, and was able to score a team high of 16 points in addition to four steals. The Celtics are currently ranked 6th in the NBA, and they proved they deserved that title. The Bulls don’t have time to rest; they will be playing back-to-back games against some of the East’s best contenders, the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. If the Bulls are to gain any more momentum, head coach Fred Hoiberg has to make some immediate changes to the team’s game plan.